Kenmore Elite 81472 Dryer Review

What's in a name? That which we brand Kenmore Elite 81472, by any other name, would dry as well.


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Science Introduction

With consistent drying times and excellent overall results, this is very good at getting the job done. That said, our tests reveal why this dryer didn't land a perfect overall score.


The does a superb job. It offers effective drying, especially with its excellent Bulky cycle and Express Dry feature. It also has a great variety of customizable options, as well as a control panel that's very easy to use. Its main drawback is an MSRP of $1299.99. For that price—or even a $1130 sale price—we'd expect perfection. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

For those interested in buying this item as a pair, the Kenmore Elite 41472 also performed very well. Like its wetter counterpart, this particular dryer is an updated model based on the LG DLEX3470V. Since it's a , you're dependent on Sears to find a sale price. Without the benefit of any discounts or competitive retailing, the comparable LG may actually turn out to be a better value.

Design & Usability

Elegant design meets sleek navigation.

The looks modern, not to mention expensive. The blue tinted backing for the controls and the gray and steel highlights make this appliance more elegant and visually interesting than the average white dryer. That said, this machine commits one important design faux pas. Having white enamel instead of stainless steel for the interior is very disappointing, given the enamel's proclivity for flaking and rusting over time.

Though the attractive controls for extra features are a little hard to read, the two-column layout for the preset cycles, highlighted by blue indicator lights, is very easy to see, and the cycle knob is also quite sturdy.

More often than not the door would bounce back open.

The massive door on this may be sleek and shiny, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to work as well as it looks. Sure, it opened easily enough, but when we went to close it, more often than not the door would bounce back open. Inevitably, we just began slamming the door shut to ensure closure—a frustrating design flaw in an otherwise attractive machine.

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Water Retention and Temperature

Water retention and temperature tests show why the word "almost" keeps landing before "perfect".

As is usually the case, the Normal cycle proved to be a solid starting point for this dryer's testing. It got clothes completely dry, hitting a high temperature of 148ºF. This makes for a reliable and very effective Normal drying cycle that will take good care of your clothes.

The Express Dry cycle was used for our Quick Dry test, and testing revealed a 137º temperature peak with a 91 percent water removal rate. This is excellent, as many dryers can hardly break the half-way point in moisture removal on a quick cycle, let alone reach as effective a temperature as 137ºF.

For its part, the Delicate cycle got warmer than we'd like—25º is just a bit too hot for a perfect Delicate setting—but clothes came out 98 percent of the way to bone dry. Predictably, the Bulky test only achieved 85 percent moisture removal. This isn't perfect, but it's competitive (most dryers fail Bulky tests rather miserably), maintaining a gentle temperature of 135ºF.


Cycle Speed

Even effective machines can get bogged down by cycle duration.

Our clocks showed that sensor-based cycles on this Elite consistently came in at just around one hour. Some cycles stood out though, not only running on or ahead of schedule, but all while delivering totally or nearly dry test loads at safe temperatures. A great time is fine, but fast cycles that aren't efficient or effective don't mean much.

The real standout is perhaps the Quick cycle, which not only surpassed what most other machines can do in terms of dryness, but did so in a speedy 25 minutes. Time was also a hugely positive factor for the Bulky cycle, which finished in under one hour while still outperforming many comparable models. Finally, the trusty Normal cycle finished the job in less than 60 minutes—a satisfying report all around.

Dry Cycles.jpg

Performance & Features

This dryer does more than just get the job done.

Lint Trap Photo

Fairly standard lint trap; nothing fancy here.

With consistent drying times and excellent overall results, this is a very adept machine. All three of the preset cycles that we tested consistently finished in about an hour, and every cycle got almost all the moisture out of our materials. It also managed to do this in a reasonable amount of time, which means that you won't be spending your entire day doing laundry.

If variety is the spice of life, then this dryer will keep your chore time well-seasoned. The 13 different cycles cover all the usual bases, like Heavy Duty and Delicate, but also include a Workout Wear cycle for the fitness nut, or a Sanitize cycle for those with really curious children. Meanwhile, the Steam Refresh cycle theoretically removes odors and wrinkles from clothes that don't necessarily need a full wash.

Controls 2 Photo

The small labels on the controls can be a bit difficult to read.

If you want to use one of the preset cycles, you have the option to set the dryness level to one of five different points ranging from Damp Dry to Extra Dry. Alternatively, for those who prefer the manually timed options, the temperature can also be set to one of five heat levels.



The Kenmore 81472.

But what about that big price tag?

Despite its flaws and its price tag, The Kenmore 81472 is still an excellent dryer. It's a slightly more refined version of another quality appliance, the LG DLEX3470V. It has lots of features, steam capabilities, and a very attractive finish too.

Though they don't carry the label, there are quite a few other machines out there that dry clothes just as effectively—if not more so—on certain cycles. If you're tired of comparison shopping and just want to swallow the cost, you won't go wrong with the Elite 81472. If, however, you're looking for a bargain and Sears isn't having a sale, it's best to look elsewhere.

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